Yesterday I shared a post with a video featuring an interview by WHUT with Bassem Tamimi, the father of Ahed Tamimi. If you haven’t seen it you can check it out here. WHUT is a public TV station in Washington D.C.
Ahed Tamimi, 17, and her mother, Nariman, have both been confined in an Israeli prison since late December following an incident in which the young girl slapped an Israeli soldier who was attempting to enter her home. As you would expect, Bassem confided that he is very worried, yet also very proud of his daughter, and he also asserts that “the enemy of our humanity is the Israeli occupation.”
But perhaps the most striking of his comments comes at the tail end of the interview when, in a clear reference to Jesus, he talks about the possibilities for peace and pays tribute to the “Prophet of Peace.” In this segment he mentions family members who have been killed by Israeli forces, yet expresses hope that peace may come one day “after we can analyze and destroy the occupation mentality.” He mentions Israeli apartheid, expressing hope for a solution in which all peoples can live at peace regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity–and then finally offers the following:
We believe that the main and important part of the struggle again is the human being. For that we need to follow our humanity, follow justice, peace, and the freedom until we reach the goal that everyone lives in this land in peace–to be an example for the land of peace in the homeland of the Prophet of Peace.
I wanted to post Bassem’s words here because I thought they might help clarify the struggle and plight of Palestinians–particularly for those Americans who are not as familiar with the issue and who don’t get a clear picture of what’s going on due to the ownership and control of their media. According to a poll conducted in 2016, nearly half of all Americans (a whopping 49.2 percent) believe Palestinians occupy Israeli land rather than the reverse.
Bassem is right–we need to follow our humanity. It kind of brings to mind the words of Jesus, “Whatever you did for one of the lease of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Perhaps the whole passage from Matthew 25 is worth recounting here:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Who is more closely following the teachings of Jesus? And who would Jesus have the most compassion for? The occupiers or the occupied? Those who throw children into prison? Or the parents bringing up those children? Those who carry out home raids in the middle of the night? Or those who live in those homes and face the terror of having their doors kicked in? Those instigating wars? Or those who continue, against all odds, trying to find a way to peace?
Bassem makes another interesting point when he asserts that in reality, for him, it was the face of the soldier that slapped Ahed’s hand–rather than the other way around. He is right. When you are talking about an occupation that has continued unabated for decades, when you’re referring to a soldier of that occupation appearing at the front gate of a family’s home, a soldier carrying a gun and wearing combat gear, and when the family he is threatening is guilty of nothing more than peaceful, nonviolent resistance, nonviolent, peaceful resistance in an effort to end the “occupation mentality” that has oppressed them for years–in such case it is the soldier, not the young girl, who is in reality doing the slapping.